True romance is always an adventure...


A LITTLE BIT OF SUGAR

"You smiling?" Anthony called back.

"Yeah, right," I said, shooting daggers at the back of his head.  "You actually expect me to smile while I’m representing that faux sausage and balloon covered float trailing behind us?"

His husky laughter floated up into the air, mixing in with the roadside taunts being flung our way. I gritted my teeth and tried to look as dignified as one could in this far-from-dignified situation. One I found myself in all thanks to him!

"Yo, Weenie Queen!" some punk kid in a Mohawk, ripped jeans and an Ozzy Osbourne t-shirt called out as we passed by. His taunt was followed by snorts and laughter from the group of boys he was hanging with out in front of Mr. Donatelli’s corner coffee shop.

"You are so dead," I hissed to Anthony through my fake smile.

He was enjoying my misery far too much. Misery he had caused me by putting my name on the ballot to become Sausage Queen. Just what every girl dreamed of being – a ‘weenie queen’.

Anthony Carboni was four years older than me and had been my next-door neighbor all my life. He used to torment me to no end when I was a kid – I paused in thought as I took in my surroundings – no, make that he still tormented me. And if I didn’t like him so much, I’d hate him.

I raised my gold-plated, sausage-tipped staff and jabbed it firmly into the back of Anthony’s navy blue, button-down shirt collar. "I swear I’m going to get even with you for doing this to me, Carboni. You just wait."

He glanced back at me with that devil-may-care grin I had come to know so well. A look my friends all went nutso over. Thankfully, I was immune to his charm.

"You can have me any time you want," he said, his words irking me every bit as much as they excited me. "You just say the word."

"Keep your eyes on the road," I insisted, trying to ignore the familiar curly-cue of heat that flickered to life in my lower half. My body had obviously forgotten that it was immune to Anthony Carboni’s hunkiness.

He shrugged and turned his attention back to the road ahead. "Fine.  But you’re a lot sexier than that float of Italian opera singer wannabes in front of us."

I rolled my eyes. I was so not getting sucked in by his flattery. I knew what he was up to. Nice try Carboni.  Unfortunately for you, I’m immune to your verbal foreplay."

"Verbal foreplay?" he repeated with a husky laugh. "Hey, I like the sound of that."

"I mean it, Anthony. Sex is all guys your age think about. Admit it. All you guys really want is a place to park your over-eager sausage."

"Gina Stewart," he said, tsking loudly. "Such naughty thoughts. So, are you interested?"

"Give it up, Carboni," I muttered with an irritated frown. "This girl’s parking garage is closed."

"How about giving me the operating hours and I’ll come back when it’s open?"

I let out a groan. "Don’t you ever give up?"

"Not when it’s something I really want."

"Oh, and I’m what you really want?"

He nodded his reply.

Even though he had his back to me, I knew Anthony was grinning. This time I jabbed my scepter into the back of his head and gave it a little push. "You’re so full of it."

He laughed. "How do you figure?"

"Give me a break. You think all you have to do is flash that Carboni smile at a girl and she’ll fall right into bed with you."

"That’s usually how it works," he admitted without hesitation and then ducked forward just in time to avoid getting whacked again by my scepter. Lucky for him.

Anthony Carboni was a natural born flirt and girls ate it up. "News flash," I told him. "I’m not falling."

He shrugged and glanced back at me over his broad shoulder with a toothy grin. "Hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying."

Teasing was more like it. And what really irked me the most was that I was really was getting sucked in by it, despite my insisting otherwise.

* * *

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